three days and three nights

Matthew 12:40

12:40 three days and three nights. If “three days and three nights” is taken to mean literally seventy-two hours, there would be an apparent contradiction with the many prophecies and records that He would rise on “the third day” (Matthew 16:21; 20:19; John 2:19; I Corinthians 15:4; etc.), This reckoning would oppose the uniform tradition of the church that He was crucified on Friday and rose on Sunday. The problem is resolved if one assumes that any portion of a day or night could be idiomatically reckoned as a “day and night.” Actual extra-Biblical justification for assuming this idiomatic usage here exists. Thus, if three calendar dates are involved, they can be counted as the entire three days and nights. At least two similar usages can be found in the Old Testament. Note Esther 4:16 in comparison with Esther 5:1, and also I Samuel 30:12 with I Samuel 30:13.

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